Cole could be used as makeweight as Liverpool try to snare Downing
Having lost Ashley Young already in this transfer window, Aston Villa are doing everything they can to hold on to Stewart Downing.
Liverpool finally made their move for the midfielder last night with the board tabling a £15m bid for the England winger, but it was quickly rejected by the Villa board who value Downing at the same price as Ashley Young.
Unlike Young, Downing is contracted to Aston Villa until 2013 and the Villa board find themselves in a stronger position to negotiate with Liverpool for a higher fee.
Downing has stated his desire to leave Liverpool and new boss Alex McLeish is willing to let him leave, but only if they get the right price and Downing finds himself in a similar position to Cesc Fabregas or Carlos Tevez, just on a smaller scale.
Young was in the final year of his contract but Manchester United still paid around the £18m mark for his services and while Villa may hold out for £20m, it is believed the two clubs could agree a fee around £18m although there is talk Joe Cole could be included in a deal should Alex McLeish want him.
Kenny Dalglish is a huge fan of Stuart Downing and has targeted the winger to slot into Liverpool’s new brand of British football, and Aston Villa fans should be preparing for life without Young or Downing.
Dalglish is also keen on Blackpool’s Charlie Adam and the Blackpool board put a £9m price tag on their star asset yesterday, suggesting a move to Liverpool could be imminent.
But while Liverpool bolster their squad, Villa are losing their best players and Alex McLeish will find his position as Aston Villa manager scrutinised further should Downing complete his move to Liverpool.
Villa may be in the betting market to finish in the top four at 25/1 but on the basis of the early summer transfer activity, the relegation betting is the market Villa are most likely to have an influence on.
McLeish was relegated as Birmingham manager last year and Villa are 16/1 to be relegated this year.